Panama Roadrunner offers daytrips to Portobelo and Colon and it has become one of our most popular tours. Portobelo is about 1 1/2 hours from Panama City along a toll road which would rival any North American highways. The road splits at Sabanitas and you can head to Portobelo or Colon.
We generally start our day in Portobelo. If the guests choose to snorkel or dive we go to Golden Frog Scuba and Diving. Rey, the owner, will take the group by boat to a private beach and stay while the group snorkels. We recently took our staff to Portobelo to experience the snorkeling first hand and everyone had a chance to see the hull of one of Sir Francis Drake's ships that was sunk over 400 years ago. On the boat ride back Rey usually has the boat driver swing into Portobelo Bay where there are still old forts and cannons.
After snorkeling we usually stop for lunch and then our guests have a choice of what they would like to do for the day.
Town of Portobelo - there are two old forts in Portobelo, a Customs House Museum and the Church of the Black Christ. I always find the old forts interesting because I am a bit of a history buff and I love to imagine the great battles that would have gone on in Portobelo Bay with pirates such as Henry Morgan. The walls of the forts are made with coral and are weathering with age. Recently the old forts are being looked at by Unesco as world heritage site. Portobelo was the most heavily fortified port in the world from the mid 1500's to the mid 1700's. It is not hard to imagine the Spanish soldiers protecting Panama. Over 1/3 of the worlds gold and silver was exported to Spain from this port. With so much gold leaving Panama the Bay of Portobelo was often attacked by Dutch, French and English pirates/privateers including well known Englishmen Sir Francis Drake and Captain Henry Morgan.
Safaricks Zoo in Portobelo - this newly opened animal rescue operates as a zoo. The zoo is owned by a Canadian couple dedicated to these animals and there is a great butterfly house, lots of monkeys and macaws. There is a large walk through area where the toucans live and guests have the chance to interact with the toucans and feed them bits of banana.
Colon- Many guests choose to visit both the Gatun Locks and the Gatun Canal Expansion. The locks at Colon are smaller and there are fewer tourists than at Miraflores locks. The observation deck over the Gatun locks is just a few feet away from the ships unlike Miraflores where the observation deck is several stories high and a hundred feet back from the actual lock. There are 2 short movies at the Canal expansion observation area which explain about the history of the canal and how the expansion is going forward. Very informative.
Fort San Lorenzo - is not far from the Gatun Locks and is also an area filled with history. Fort San Lorenzo is the third fortress on the defense triangle with the first being Portobelo and the second being Panama City. It is located about 70 feet above the Chagres River delta. The fortress is realtively intact, still has the original cannons and an amazing view.
Panama Canal Railway - for those who choose to take the train back across to Panama city (where your driver will be waiting for you) we need to have you to the Colon train station about 4:30 p.m. There is a passenger car on the train that is raised so that you are able to see all of the countryside and the sun setting as you go by. Often we've had comments from guests who have seen monkeys, sloths or ring tailed lemur. Panama's only railway runs along the canal from Colon to Panama City (north and south). Its primary use is container transport.
Colon is also home to the cruise ports and we often go to pick up guests and take them on a Portobelo day trip or a tour to the city. We do caution people not to walk around in Colon without an escort. It is a high crime area and we really don't recommend going out in the town of Colon.
There are many great restaurants in the area where people can stop for a bite of lunch. There is a restaurant in Portobleo where we've stopped: Torres (Tower) Restuarant, Los Anclas. If heading to San Lorenzo there is a great little place called Shelter Bay. They all serve fresh fish and have chicken and other main dishes as well. Reasonably priced, all three are a hit with our guests.
Panama Roadrunner offers safe and secure transport to Portobelo and Colon. Your safety is of paramount importance to us!
For more information on our Portobelo and Colon day trip contact us at www.panamaroadrunner.com